The skill of singing is learned over time, and it is vital that the teaching of singing is undertaken with great care. In this field of study, the body is the instrument. It cannot be replaced, and is also intrinsically connected to one’s person. Therefore a strong element of trust is necessary between student and teacher. No two students are alike, or will sound the same. My goal in working with each one of my students is that they would find their ‘true voice,’ un-manipulated and free from tensions. It is for this reason that I practice and teach with kinesthetic tools, imagery and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology.
Kinesthetic tools allow students to experience how something ought to feel, and reliance upon them is gradually reduced over the course of study. The positive impact of haptic guidance is documented in the field of motor learning, and the use of these tools in the process of learning to sing also provides the foundation for a tangible practice method, helping students make the most of their personal practice time.
Imagery based teaching is vocal pedagogy’s heritage. Prior to our understanding of anatomy and physiology or exercise science excellent teachers were helping students sing beautifully. The voice cannot be seen or touched, it can only be heard. As such it is important that students grow in the ability to create mental representations of how something feels or sounds. Using figurative and descriptive language that is not necessarily scientific can be especially helpful in this process.
The understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the voice is a gift to teacher and students alike. As my teacher Dr. Kari Ragan has said “There is variability, and there are truths.” These truths for vocal pedagogy eliminate much ambiguity and guess work, enabling teacher and student to move forward with confidence. Utilizing all three of these knowledge bases to dynamically work through the five systems of the voice allows me to teach flexibly and find different ways to help students achieve healthy vocal function in various vocal styles.